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  1. Introducing Amy Lombard by Donna

    Posted on

    AMY LOMBARD Cover Story

    Quick! By a show of hands how many of you are on Instagram? Facebook? Twitter? Yep, thought so. Social media is a fact of life today, and while many have lamented the negative effects it has had on communication,( on social media, of course) and the building of community, photo journalist, Amy Lombard argues that it can and does have many positive effects as well.

    Amy hails from Philly, but moved to the Big Apple in 2008 in order to pursue a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Fashion Institute of Technology, which she obtained in 2012. While she was working on her degree, Amy worked as an editor at Time focused mostly on Social Media and Technology.

    In 2013, she found herself at a gathering of pug owners. She originally thought this will be a story about our connection to animals but then inspiration struck and Amy was fascinated with the idea that so many people were brought together by the net. People who would otherwise never have met were here, in a stranger's living room, in the Bronx and their little dogs too! On her website, Amy says she was a shy child whose interests, at the time, were not those of others her age. She credits chat rooms and such with helping her find her tribe, where she fits in, in this world. Social Media makes it easier for those with unusual or very specific hobbies to connect with like minded souls.

    That led to her eventually publishing a book, Connected, in 2016,having received a VSCO Artist Initiative grant, that showcases the diverse groups that met off-line after originally making the connection on -line. Wikipedia defines “CommunityBuilding” as follows:

    {CommunityBuilding is a field of practices directed toward the creation or enhancement of Community among individuals within a regional area, (such as a neighbourhood) or with a common interest...

    That definition is a bit too narrow for me and so I was naturally pleased and drawn to Amy's work. Just as the term, family has expanded, to become more inclusive, so too must the meaning community. Amy argues that while social media has grown and changed what we mean by community, it has not killed it.

    FMD could be a case in point. Without social media my team mates and I would not have met over our shared passion for creative endeavours. Many of my team mates are across the pond or across the country from me, but like me they are trying to balance work, family, and self idealization into a meaningful life. Social media has allowed us to come together, share dreams, and work cooperatively towards mutual goals. Isn't that the meaning of community? Each of us contributes our talents and develops our gifts while benefiting from those of our peers.

    But what about actual face time detractors ask? Amy, in prior interviews, has suggested that while we may make on-line connections due to a specific interest or goal, that over time we bond and our connection becomes more than that, deeper. Then too, my peers and I feel that social media allows more face time with those we love. So for me, I was drawn to Amy's work because it expanded my definition of community and helped me appreciate the uniqueness of others while, at the same time, emphasized our shared humanity.

    A self professed workaholic, Amy's passion for what she does led to her being named one of PDN's 30 new and emerging photographers to watch in 2016. Her work has been featured in many publications including Time, The New Yorker, Vanity Fair and Wired.

    I recently caught up with her, via social media, of course and asked her if she would share any upcoming projects with us. She informed that her work-in-progress is a huge undertaking on Square Dancing in America. Amy told me that though at one time this dance was such a cultural force that it drew thousands to a single dance it has been on the decline since the 80's. It will be a very comprehensive as Amy has been working on it for years. She states that while no one has seen it yet, she has been photographing square dances with unique themes such as pyjama and bears themed as well as a naked square dance and flash mob square dances. I for one can't wait to see these images knowing Amy's flair for bold, quirky, fun photographs that capture her human subjects at what they do best, being human. Amy has tentatively named the work, United Squares and may be finished with it sometime in the next year.

    Till then, go Get a copy of her work, Connected, here. Flip through the more than 375 photographs and enjoy the smile you are sure to get. Then visit here at FMD Magazine and let us know what you think. We would love to connect with you!

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  2. Art & Photography by Donna

    Posted on

    The Art of Retirement

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    Everyone dreams of retirement, of having time enough to reconnect with old passions or perhaps ignite new ones. But when the day arrives, you might wonder, where to start? Your local community college might have an answer for how you can begin your own Act 2.

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    Act 2 is a Community college program that is designed to meet the needs of those retired or approaching retirement age. The program aims to encourage seniors to explore a variety of interests by offering instruction, in a safe, nurturing environment, at a price that won't break the bank. Most classes run just $17.00 to $70.00 for 5 weeks of instruction.

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    I recently had the pleasure of joining art instructor Katie Frey, and her students. Katie is a graduate of Walla WallaUniversity. She has an English degree, with an art minor. For the past eight years she has been teaching adults drawing, acrylic painting, art journaling, and mixed media. Three years ago, while she was teaching a class a student asked why she didn't teach for Act 2. She applied and the rest, as they say, is history.

    FMD: So how did an English Major end up teaching Art and not Shakespeare?

    Katie: (laughs) I have always been involved with art and I guess it just took over. One day, while a student at Community Colleges myself, a piece of my work was stolen. I thought if someone likes my work enough to steal it, perhaps others would be willing to pay for it and a career in art was a possibility for me.

    FMD: What do you consider integral to your work with the students here?

    Katie: I think it is very important that the students develop their own vision for their art and not have my artistic vision or style foisted on them. I want their art to take them where they want to go and not where I think it should go.

    FMD: What one thing do you hope your students take away from their time spent with you and the Act 2 program?

    Katie: I would like them to develop a love for art and to be willing to take risks. To be willing to step out of one's comfort zone is, I think, very important to an artist's growth. So, I try to nudge them into trying new techniques. Sometimes, students have worked with other instructors and become stuck on one way of doing something. I tell them there is no one “right” way to create art.

    FMD: I noticed as I walked around, visiting with students, that each is working on their own individual project.

    Katie: Yes, that is one of the advantages to working with adult students. When working with children you need to be a bit more “project” based. The students here vary on where they are on their journey, from very experienced to relatively new.

    Visiting with students I learned that not only do they vary in experience level but that their reason for signing up varies well. Some want to show or sell their work professionally while others see it as way to combat loneliness and a means of getting out of the house. Still others see their art as therapy, helping them cope with loss, grief, and other changes that come over time.

    FMD: What is your take away from working with these students? What have you learned from them?

    Katie: (Smiles) I, for one, was never fond of landscapes. But, many of my students wanted to work on landscapes. That meant that as an artist, I had to find a way to paint, create landscapes in my own style. Now, I am drawn to trees, for example. My students challenge me also.

    As I wandered the room, I saw a few students experiment with adding texture to their work. Katie considers mixed media her area of expertise and today she was demonstrating the use of gold foil and the use of the pallet knife. One student, one of two male students in the class, was using a sponge to add foliage to trees.

    FMD: Many of the students seem to have taken multiple classes from you

    Katie: Yes, they sometimes take a break but many return.

    FMD: It must be exciting to be able to watch their progress. As we were speaking, a student approached and said she just wanted me to know that she felt that the diversity in these classes were very important to her as a student and an artist. She had praise for Katie saying she will always find something good about your piece, but then say, “have you ever thought of trying?”

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    If you have ever thought of renewing an old passion or igniting a new one, or perhaps would like to add some new techniques to your repertoire, then please contact your local Community college and ask about Act 2 or a similar program where you live. You will be glad you did.

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